UFO sightings in the United Kingdom
This is a list of notable alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects or UFOs in the United Kingdom. Many more sightings have become known since the gradual release of the MoD UFO sighting reports by the National Archives in 2008. In recent years there have been many sightings of groups of slowly moving lights in the night sky, which can be easily explained as Chinese lanterns. Project Condign, undertaken from 1997 to 2000, concluded that all the investigated sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena in the U.K. could be assigned to misidentified but explicable objects, or poorly understood natural phenomena.
- February, 1942: A woman named Eileen Arnold was walking down Cheltenham high street when she suddenly experienced an altered state of consciousness as she became "tuned into another reality". She became aware of a large oval shape moving slowly above the rooftops. She stated that it radiated light from holes in its side and had quills which detached one by one, also emitting light. Following this, Eileen believed she had numerous psychic experiences.
- September, 1942: Albert Lancaster believes he was abducted by aliens while working as a guard at a radar site near Newbiggin-on-Sea, Northumbria. He claimed to have a sudden urge to go outside followed by a "strange impulse to look at the sky." He claims he saw a glowing light surrounded by dark mist and, assuming it was a German weapon, went to raise the alarm before being struck by a beam of light from the cloud followed by a floating sensation then becoming aware he was back at his post. Following this experience he believed he had psychic powers for a period of time.
- August 5, 1944: According to records released on August 5, 2010, British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill banned the reporting for 50 years of an alleged UFO incident because of fears it could create mass panic. Reports given to Churchill claimed the incident allegedly involved an Royal Air Force (RAF) reconnaissance plane returning from a mission in France or Germany toward the end of the Second World War. It was over or near the English coastline when it was allegedly suddenly intercepted by a strange metallic object that matched the aircraft's course and speed for a time before accelerating away and disappearing. The plane's crew were reported to have photographed the object, which they said had "hovered noiselessly" near the aircraft, before moving off. According to the documents, details of the cover-up emerged when the man wrote to the government in 1999 seeking to find out more about the incident. He described how his grandfather, who served with the RAF in the Second World War, was present when Churchill and U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower discussed how to deal with the UFO encounter. The files come from more than 5,000 pages of UFO reports and letters and drawings from members of the public, as well as questions raised by Members of Parliament in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. They are available to download for free for a month from The National Archives website.
- 14–25 September 1952: Operation Mainbrace - many UFOs were observed. On 19 September at 11 am a silver disc-shaped object followed a Gloster Meteor returning to RAF Topcliffe, and seen by observers on the ground. It rotated whilst hovering. It then travelled towards the west at high speed. On 21 September, six RAF planes followed a spherical object over the North Sea. It followed one of the planes back to the base.
- 14 October 1954: Flt Lt James Salandin of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, flying in a No. 604 Squadron RAF Gloster Meteor F8 from RAF North Weald, narrowly missed two UFOs over Southend-on-Sea at around 4:30 pm at 16,000 ft. The objects were circular with one being coloured silver and the other gold. He narrowly avoided having a head-on collision with the silver object.
- 17 July 1955 at noon: on King Harold's Way in Bexleyheath in the London Borough of Bexley a 30-foot-wide saucer-shaped object was seen to hover a few feet above a street in broad daylight by Margaret Fry and her doctor on a very hot cloudless day. Car engines nearby to the object stalled. It was seen by around thirty people and made a humming noise and landed at the junction of Ashbourne Road and Whitfield Road. It hovered over Bedonwell Primary School (now Bedonwell Junior School) for around one minute. It finally shot off into the sky. Another UFO had landed a few streets away at the same time. A similar object had been seen in Bexleyheath in 1952.
- 13 August 1956: Lakenheath-Bentwaters incident - 12 to 15 objects were picked up by USAF radar over East Anglia. One object was tracked at more than 4,000 mph by USAF GCA radar at RAF Bentwaters. The objects sometimes travelled in formation, then converged to form a larger object and performed sharp turns. One object was tracked for 26 miles which then hovered for five minutes then flew off. One object at 10 pm was tracked at 12,000 mph. RAF de Havilland Venoms from RAF Waterbeach had sightings of the objects.
- 22 September 1956 at 3 pm: a large, spherical glass-like 80-foot-diameter object was seen over the Cleethorpes coast for over an hour and also seen on radar from RAF Manby. RAF planes approached the object and it flew off.
- 4 April 1957: West Freugh incident - a large object was seen on radar at RAF West Freugh near Stranraer at 50,000 ft which was stationary for 10 minutes over the Irish Sea. It moved vertically to 70,000 ft and was also tracked by radar at Ardwell. The object did an 'impossible' sharp turn and was described as being as large as a ship, bigger than a normal aircraft.
- 20 May 1957: Milton Torres 1957 UFO Encounter - a USAF F-86D Sabre based at RAF Manston intercepted an object over East Anglia.
- Late spring (from 19 May) and early summer 1965: Many sightings of UFOs were seen in the Warminster area. Cley Hill, near to the town, has since been a place for frequent sightings.
- 28 April 1967: a dome-shaped object was sighted over Brixham in Devon at around 1,600 ft at around noon for approximately one hour. A door was seen in the side of the object and it had been seen by the HM Coastguard station at Berry Head.
- 1967: Clapham Wood experienced a rash of UFO sightings and unexplained events during the 1960s and continuing into the 1970s.
- 24 October 1967: Devon Flying Cross UFO - PCs Roger Willey (from Okehampton) and Clifford Waycott (from Winkleigh) were driving from Holsworthy to Hatherleigh along the A3072 at 4 am. They saw a bright object in the shape of a cross at tree-top height at a distance of about 40 metres. They followed the 'pulsating' object for about fifteen minutes along the road at speeds up to 80 mph. The object was described as being star-spangled like 'looking through wet glass'. At 4:23 am it was joined by a second object. A motorist, Mr Christopher Garner of Hatherleigh, had also seen it and thought he was having a nightmare. The object disappeared around 5 am having been followed for fourteen miles. It was attributed to Venus as were other similar sightings that same month.
- 25 October 1967: Sussex flying cross - policemen in five police cars across East Sussex reported a bright flying cross in the early hours, with the first sighting at 4:45 am at Halland. The other sightings were a few minutes later.
- 26 October 1967: 54-year-old Mr Angus Brooks, a former BOAC administrator for its Comet fleet, of Owermoigne was walking on Moigns Down at 11:25 am near Holworth close to the Dorset coast (a mile south of Owermoigne on the A354) with his two dogs in a force 8 gale and took shelter in a hollow. He then saw a circular translucent craft with a 'girder' to the front and three 'girders' pointing to the rear. The girders rearranged to form a cross shape around the central 25 ft diameter disc and then began to spin. Twenty two minutes later, the 'girders' went back to their original position and the craft sped off in a north-east direction.
- 8 September 1970: William Schaffner intercepted an unknown object over the North Sea. His BAC Lightning was later retrieved from the sea.
- 1971: It is claimed that unidentified silent craft were regularly seen by two school children near the coastal village of Muchalls, Scotland (but not in the village itself), from 1971 onwards. These events are claimed to have continued night after night for many years. The phenomena are reputed to have continued at least until 1991 when some aspects of the apparitions were also filmed in the area.
- October 16, 1973: It is alleged that Gabriella Versacci was taken on board an alien space ship near a small village in Somerset, England. She was physically inspected when strapped down to an examination table.
- January 23, 1974: A UFO allegedly crashed at Berwyn Mountain, Wales. The event coincided with an earthquake.
- February 4, 1977: A cigar-shaped craft is alleged to have landed next to Broad Haven Primary School and witnessed by 14 school children who saw a silver creature.
- 22 November 1978 at 17:15 : Elsie Oakensen of Church Stowe, south of Weedon Bec in Northamptonshire was driving down the A5 from Weedon southwards to her home. She saw two bright lights, one green and one red and could make out a dumbbell shaped object. Turning off the A5 to her village, her recently serviced car cut out twice. Then she noticed the sky was black and a brilliant white beam of light shone on the road ahead, then the normal colour of the sky returned but she could not account for 15 minutes of her time.
- November 9, 1979: Bob Taylor, a forestry worker had an alleged encounter with a UFO in a clearing in Livingston, which he claimed dragged him along the ground. It is considered one of the most significant "Close Encounters" in Scotland.
- 29 November 1980 at 5 am: Alan Godfrey, an on-duty police officer, claims to have been abducted by an alien space craft in Todmorden in West Yorkshire. A strange luminescent object had been spotted by other local police officers at the same time.
- December, 1980: A series of reported sightings of unexplained lights and objects in the sky, and the alleged landing of an extraterrestrial spacecraft occurred at Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England on 26 December. It is perhaps the most famous UFO event to have happened in Britain, ranking amongst the best-known UFO events worldwide.
- August 12, 1983: A 77-year-old gentleman, Alfred Burtoo, was quietly fishing on the Basingstoke Canal when a UFO landed nearby. Two humanoid beings beckoned him onto their disc-shaped vehicle and he was medically examined by English-speaking creatures. He was 'rejected' by the creatures because he was 'too old'.
- 19 November 1987 at 7 pm: the Black Country UFO - a large UFO was seen at close quarters hovering over houses in Brierley Hill.
- 1 December 1987: Philip Spencer (not his real name), a retired policeman, took a picture on Ilkley Moor, which is claimed to be of an alien creature, and then saw a white coloured craft leaving the area. The object in the photograph was examined by Kodak Laboratories at Hemel Hempstead and they decided that the object was not superimposed. This was one of the few British close encounters of the third kind. Under hypnosis he claimed to have been abducted and medically examined.
- 4 August 1990 at 9 pm: a 75-foot-wide diamond object was seen by an RAF Harrier 20 miles north of Pitlochry in Perth and Kinross. It appeared to hover for 10 minutes above the A9 near Calvine.
- 21 April 1991: airline pilot Achille Zaghetti from Grosseto, Tuscany, in an Alitalia McDonnell Douglas MD-80 on a flight from Milan to Heathrow saw a three-metre-long khaki-coloured object over Lydd in Kent at 22,000 ft about 300m away. It was seen on radar.
- 1992: James Walker noticed unidentified lights in the sky over Bonnybridge, the town became the scene of numerous UFO sightings. It forms part of the "Falkirk Triangle", an area stretching from Stirling to Fife and the outskirts of Edinburgh. UFO enthusiasts claim that Bonnybridge is the world's number one UFO location, with an average of around 300 sightings a year.
- 1993, March 31: Multiple witnesses across south-west and west England saw a large triangular-shaped UFO speeding across the sky leaving a luminous wake. Analysis of the sightings concluded that the object was the re-entry of a Russian booster rocket combined with a later sighting of a police helicopter.
- 6 January 1995: pilots aboard a Boeing 737 on British Airways Flight BA5061 from Milan saw an object on their descent to Manchester at 4,000 ft when over the southern Pennines. The reports have been attributed to a bright fireball.
- 5 October 1996: the Wash Incident - in the early hours a rotating UFO was seen over The Wash by Skegness and Boston police officers, although later (partially) explained as a radar echo of St Botolph's Church. The visual sightings were explained as celestial objects.
- 24 March 1997: At 22:00 on the Dark Peak, Howden Moor, two sonic booms were heard over the area, and recorded at this time although the RAF denied having supersonic aircraft in the area. They later helped in the night-long search for a crashed aircraft, using helicopters and sniffer dogs from the police with 150 Mountain Rescue volunteers. No wreckage was found. A triangle-shaped UFO had been seen an hour before the sonic booms in the local area.
- October 5, 2000: A woman named Sharon Rowlands from Bonsall, Derbyshire claimed to have seen a large luminous pink object hovering and rotating over a nearby field. She filmed the object on a camcorder.
- 26 May 2004: a 60 metre long cigar-shaped object was seen over Torquay. Local teenagers later came forward to admit the sighting was caused by their toy inflatable airship.
- November, 2007: Numerous people from the West Midlands conurbation reported sightings of a silent triangle shaped object in the skies in the evening which the press dubbed the Dudley Dorito.
- June 8, 2008: A number of UFO sightings took place in Wales which involved a police helicopter following a UFO over Cardiff near MOD St Athan and the Bristol Channel. See: Wales UFO sightings
- September 10, 2009: In Glen Road, near Lennoxtown, three people in a car were reportedly struck by a colourful beam of light, the event reportedly lasted for over two minutes.
- July 13, 2013: An Airbus A320 pilot encounters an object closing in on his passenger plane, which passes extremely close to the cockpit whilst flying at 34,000ft above Berkshire. With no time to make an evasive manoeuvre, the Captain instinctively ducked as he believed a collision was imminent.
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- The National Archives website
- Operation Mainbrace
- James Salandin 1954
- UFO investigator - meet granny Margaret Fry at the Wayback Machine (archived January 17, 2013) BBC, 20 May 2008
- 1955 Bexleyheath UFO
- Bexleyheath UFO
- Bexleyheath 1955
- UFO Warminster
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- Devon Flying Cross of 1967
- The October 1967 UFO flap
- Moigns Down UFO
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- National Archives
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